About 1 of every ten kids will develop eczema. It usually shows up in the first six months to five years of your child’s life. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes redness, dryness, scaling, and itching.
Sometimes the skin has small fluid-filled bumps that become moist and ooze. It is a long-term condition but in most cases, disappears before adulthood. Eczema can be mild or severe, and the symptoms can come and go.
Eczema shows up as patches of red or dry skin. Babies can get eczema just anywhere on their body. Mostly it affects their cheeks and joints of their arms and legs.
Common Types of Eczema
It is one of the common types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is said to be a chronic condition and may last into a child’s teenage years and beyond. It affects children in families with a history of allergies. The rash is usually dry and itchy. If your kid scratches, it may lead to breaks in the skin with resultant secondary infection and scarring.
It is also known as seborrheic dermatitis and affects children under the age of two. Seborrhea is thought to be a disturbance in the skin’s production of sebaceous matter and sweat. The rash is red, dry and slightly flaky and is usually found on the face, neck, and chest, folds of skin and diaper area. Babies may develop yellowish scabs on the scalp, called cradle cap. This rash disappears after a few months.
It occurs when substances such as cosmetics, nickel, creams, and allergens irritate the skin and cause hypersensitivity reactions. The skin becomes red and gives rise to raised papules or vesicles. The rash is moist and itchy with blisters. Poison ivy can be said as an example of contact dermatitis.
What Causes Eczema?
Genetics: If a kid gets eczema, he may have family members who suffer from hay fever, asthma or other allergies. Some experts say that these children are genetically inclined to get eczema. About half of the kids who get eczema will someday develop hay fever or asthma themselves. If mom and dad have eczema, then the baby is a lot more likely to get it too.
Skin barrier: The problems in the skin barrier, allowing moisture out and germs it may also be a cause.
Ceramides: Eczema occurs when your kid’s body makes too few fat cells called ceramides. If your child doesn’t have enough of these cells, his skin will lose water and become dehydrated.
Signs and Symptoms of Eczema
The signs and symptoms can vary widely during the early phases. Between two and six months and always before five years of age, kids with eczema may develop dry, itchy red skin rash that is susceptible to infection. The rash may occur on the cheek, forehead or scalp and may spread to arms, legs, and trunk. Crusted or open lesions that are red may appear in any affected area.
In older children, the usual location of eczema is on the back of the knees and the inside of elbows as well as around the wrists and ankles. Those who have eczema for a longer period will have thicker, dryer and browner skin from scratches and previous sores. When your kids get older, the rashes become scalier and extremely itchy and dry. The symptoms also tend to worsen and improve over time, with flare-ups occurring periodically.
In many kids eczema goes into remission and the symptom may disappear for months or even years together. The symptoms start to improve by the age of 5 or 6 for most children. Some kids may have flare-ups throughout adolescence and well into early adulthood. In some cases, eczema may improve but then restarts as children enter puberty. Eczema is not contagious, so you don’t need to keep your baby away from siblings, other children or anyone else.
How To Prevent Eczema
Experts believe that this condition is hereditary and so you cannot avoid it. But if you exclusively breastfeed the baby for the first six months without introducing other foods, you can prevent some forms of eczema.
The key to helping your child be in fine fettle while living with this disease is to keep the symptoms under control. You can avoid specific triggers that can make eczema worse. You can prevent flare-ups by avoiding possible triggers.
The potential triggers include
- Dehydrated skin
- Animal Dander
- Dry winter air with little moisture
- Harsh soaps and detergents
- Wool and coarsely woven materials
- Skin care products, colognes, perfumes especially those that contain alcohol
- Emotional stress
- Tobacco smoke
- Foods such as dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, and nuts
- Excessive heat
Scratching the rash can worsen the condition and cause severe skin damage or a secondary infection.
How To Control The Triggers
Dry skin: Keep your child’s skin moisturized especially after a bath and during cold, dry winter months when the heating is on. Dress up your baby in cold breathable clothing. Avoid itchy fabrics like wool that can irritate the skin.
Irritants: Have a close watch on products such as hand and dish soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, bubble bath, body wash, and disinfectants or surface cleaners. Note how these everyday products do or don’t make your child’s eczema flare up. Avoid the ones that seem to be a problem.
Stress: Make a list of the things that make your child frustrated, anxious or angry. Then think about mindful ways to help your child cope with them.
Heat and sweating: Avoid letting your child become overly active when having a flare-up. Never overheat your baby’s bedroom where he spends most of his time. If your child becomes overheated, give him a fresh shower and moisturize his skin immediately.
Infection: Learn to recognize the signs of an infection and make an appointment with your doctor. If your child’s eczema weeps or has pus bumps or crusted lesions, then your kid may have an infection.
Allergens: Keep pets off rugs, furniture and beds. Dust mites collect in bedding and carpets, so be sure to use pillow and mattress covers. Remove the carpets in your child’s bedroom. Wash his pajamas often in hot water.
Give your child’s skin some TLC.
Moisturizers: Moisturizers containing ceramides are the best option. They are available over the counter by prescription. You can use a good fragrance-free cream, moisturizer or ointment such as petroleum jelly. Using it several times a day will help your baby’s skin retain its natural moisture.
A warm bath hydrates and cools the skin. Make sure the water isn’t too hot. Keep the shower short, not more than 10 minutes. To soothe itchiness, add an oatmeal soaking bath.
Clean carefully: Use soap only in areas where it is dry. Simply rinse off your child’s body. Dry off, moisturize and dress your baby in comfy clothes. Always wash new clothes before you put them on your child. Avoid overdressing him and using too many blankets.
If your kid is a pre-teen or teen, you can ask him to have shorter lukewarm baths and to moisturize regularly. Use only fragrance-free makeup, sunscreens, and facial moisturizers labeled: noncomedogenic and oil free. Teach your kid to recognize stressful situations and manage it by taking deep calming breaths and having a break.
How To Control Itching
Trim your baby’s nails often and smoothen the edges with a file. You can put scratch mittens in your child’s hands. Try wearing long socks tugged in under a long-sleeved shirt, this makes it hard for your child to remove. Apply cold compresses such as a cold, wet washcloth on the irritated areas of the skin to ease itching.
Treatment Of Eczema
If your doctor prescribes topical corticosteroids, continue to apply for as long as the doctor suggests. Nonsteroid medications are also available, and you’ll be advised to use them instead of or in conjunction with topical steroids.
You can apply emollients directly to your kid’s skin to prevent water loss and cover it with a protective film. You should use emollient creams in appropriate quantities. NICE estimates 250 g per child per week and up to 500g per adult per week.
Other prescription treatments may include antihistamines to control itching, and oral or topical antibiotics to prevent secondary infection. Some older children with severe eczema may also undergo ultraviolet light treatment to clear it up and make them more comfortable. Dermatologists may even prescribe newer medications which change the way the skin’s immune system reacts.
Coconut oil. It penetrates into the skin and fills up the intracellular space that has opened and caused the skin to lose moisture. Coconut oil is a lipid and helps prevent skin from drying out.
Directions: Wash your hands and dry them. Gently rub the coconut oil onto the affected areas and let it dry. Apply it as and when needed.
Jojoba oil. Jojoba is a liquid wax. Its molecular structure is similar to your skin’s natural sebum. Jojoba oil is composed of long chain fatty acids and fatty alcohols. So, it is incredibly creamy and moisturizing.
Wash your hands clean and dry them. Gently massage the jojoba oil to the affected areas until it is at least partially absorbed. Apply three times a day.
Seaspray. If the eczema is wet and oozing, then drying works better than moisturizing it for relief. You can use this spray to soothe the irritated skin.
- One tablespoon Himalayan salt
- 1 cup boiled or distilled water
- Pinch of Epsom salt or Magnesium flakes
- 1-3 drops of your favorite essential oil
Add Epsom salt and Magnesium flakes to warm water and stir it until the salt gets entirely dissolved.
Add essential oils and store it in a glass jar or spray bottle.
Spray it on your skin, or apply it with a cotton pad.
Soothing Butter. If you want to soothe dry, painful, itchy patches of skin, nothing can take the place of good body butter.
You will need:
- Two tablespoons beeswax
- Two tablespoons shea butter
- Four tablespoons of jojoba oil
- Six tablespoons of coconut oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Airtight tins
Melt the beeswax and jojoba completely in a double boiler. Stir in the coconut oil and allow it to melt. Finally, lower the heat and add the Shea butter and stir it until it melts. Pour the mixture into airtight glass jars. Stir in the lavender essential oil and cover the lid. Allow the body butter to cool. Apply liberally to the affected areas as needed.
Magnesium baths. If your kid can tolerate magnesium baths and other types of detox baths, then they can be helpful in skin healing.
How to prepare the magnesium bath
Two cups of Magnesium flakes
½ tsp natural vanilla extract
½ cup Himalayan or sea salt
10- 15 drops of essential oils of your choice
Dissolve the magnesium flakes and sea salt in a jar of hot water. Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water and pour the contents of the pot. Now add essential oil and vanilla extract. Soak in the bath for 20 minutes.
Fermented cod liver oil. You can supplement your kid’s diet with fermented cod liver oil because it is an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E and K. If your children don’t like the supplement you can add it to their smoothies. Fermented cod liver oil helps to reduce inflammation in the body and leads to a healthy cell, hormone and brain development.
Probiotic foods. The immune system plays a pivotal role in your skin health. Beneficial bacteria and yeast help soothe inflammation, seal a leaky gut and balance the immune system. You can find these helpful microbes in fermented foods and probiotic beverages. You can include Kombucha soda, water kefir and sauerkraut in your kid’s diet. Lacto fermenting any vegetable in whey also helps to increase the beneficial microbes in the body.
The other home remedies include
- Using glycerin spray
- Soaking in oats bath and chamomile tea bath
- Applying a paste of green clay and witch hazel extract
- Using a thin layer of honey
- Spreading a paste of cornstarch and olive or grapeseed oil
When To See The Doctor
Children and teens with eczema are prone to skin infections caused by staph bacteria and herpes virus. Take your child to the physician if you notice increased fever, pus-filled bumps on the affected areas, redness and warmth on the affected and surrounding areas, and cold sores or fever blisters.
Talk to your doctor if you notice sudden change or worsening of eczema or if the symptoms are not responding to the medications given.
Though eczema is troublesome, eating a proper diet, taking precautions and following the doctor’s instructions can help to keep it under control. If your kid has eczema how do you cope up with it? Please let us know in the comments section below.